Jefferson County Criminal Court handles all criminal cases that are filed in Jefferson County. See below for more information about criminal cases in Jefferson County.
What is a Plea Agreement?
A plea agreement is a deal made between the prosecution and the defendant in a case, where the defendant agrees to plea guilty to a particular charge in exchange for some concession from the prosecutor. In practice, more than 90% of criminal cases end with a plea agreement.
Right to Jury Trial
For “Serious Crimes”, those that can have a potential penalty of 6 months in jail OR a minimum $500 penalty, the US Constitution guarantees a right to trial by jury. This is guaranteed by Article III of the Constitution and the 6th Amendment. The accused has the ability to waive their right to trial by jury.
What is Jury Deliberation?
After both the prosecution and defense have presented their cases, the judge in the case will provide instructions to the jury about what they must decide. The jury will be dismissed to the jury room where they will deliberate about the guilt or innocence of the defendant. After reaching a unaminous decision, they return their decision to the court where it is read aloud in the courtroom. If the jury is unable to reach a unaminous decision, the jury is deadlocked, also known as a hung jury, in which a mistrial will be declared.
At a sentence hearing the judge will inform the defendant of the sentence that will be imposed. This sometimes occurs at the same hearing in which the defendant is found guilty (either by trial or plea agreement). In can also occur at a later date, most often this is due to the complexity of the case where more time is needed to determine the appropriate sentence.
Where will Jefferson County criminal case hearings take place?
Criminal cases will take place at the criminal courts of Jefferson County. See here for the location of the criminal courts in Jefferson County.
Required Court Appearances in Jefferson County
Any required court appearances in Jefferson County Criminal Court must be attended by the defendant. Failure to appear in court at your required date and time may result in the judge issuing an arrest warrant.
Jefferson County Prosecutor
For criminal cases in Jefferson County, the prosecutor will be a representative of Jefferson County. The Jefferson County prosecutor reviews all evidence and ultimately decides whether to file or dismiss charges in the case. Most of the time, the prosecutor has leeway in plea negotiations and determines how the case will be prosecuted.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
The 6th Amendment guarantees you the right to an attorney whether or not you can afford one. If you cannot afford one, a public defender will be appointed by the court to represent you.
Appealing a guilty verdict
A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict to an appellate court. This is not a request to have another trial, but a request for an appellate court to review the case and determine that it was handled in a correct legal manner. There are a number of outcomes in an appeal including an upholding of the conviction, a finding that errors were made resulting in a retrial or resentencing or possibly a complete disimissal of all charges.
Jefferson County Arraignments
An arraignment is a court hearing. In Jefferson County this is the first thing that will happen in a criminal case. The defendant will be brought before a judge in Jefferson County Criminal Court and the judge will read the charges that were filed against the defendant. The judge will also read the rights the defendant has and ask the defendant if they understand both the charges filed against them and their rights as a defendant in the case. In Jefferson County a plea of Guilty, Not Guilty or No Contest may be entered. In a guilty or no contest plea the sentencing of the defendant may take place at the same arraignment hearing or a later date may be scheduled for sentencing. For a not guilty plea, a date will be set for a trial.
Where can I get help for my Jefferson County criminal case?
The 6th amendment of the United States Constitution provides a criminal defendant with the right to an attorney. As read in the miranda rights, this means that if a defendant cannot afford to hire a private attorney a legal attorney will be appointed to the defendant to represent him at no cost to the defendant. This is often a public defender. In addition, the court clerk for Jefferson County will also be able to provide general information about a specific criminal case. The clerk can only provide information and is not an attorney so they cannot provide legal advice, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice about what the best options for are for your particular case.
Burden of Proof Requirement
In a criminal case in the United States, the burden of proof always requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty. This is a high threshold that must be met by the prosecution when presenting evidence in a case. If the prosecution fails in it’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt the judge must find the defendant not guilty. In a jury trial, the judge will inform the jury what this burden is and their obligation to find the defendant not guilty if they feel the prosecution did prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jefferson County Criminal Court Locations
Jefferson County Circuit Court
Address: 311 South Center Avenue, Room 115, Jefferson WI 53549
Phone: 920-674-7150 Fax: 920-674-7425
Central Jefferson County Municipal Court
Address: 425 Collins Road, Jefferson WI 53549
Phone: 920-674-0444 Fax: 920-674-6470
City of Fort Atkinson Municipal Court
Address: 101 North Main Street, Fort Atkinson WI 53538
Phone: 920-563-7786 Fax: 608-563-3311
City of Lake Mills Municipal Court
Address: 200 D Water Street, Lake Mills WI 53551
Phone: 920-648-2344 Fax: 920-648-5214
City of Watertown Municipal Court
Address: 106 Jones Street, Watertown WI 53094
Town of Oakland Municipal Court
Address: N4450 County Road A, Cambridge WI 53523
Phone: 608-423-7312 Fax: 608-423-4290
Village of Palmyra Municipal Court
Address: 100 West Taft Street, PO Box 368, Palmyra WI 53156
Phone: 262-472-9212 Fax: 262-495-8775